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Book list swap

March 28, 2011

Books are important to me in the same sort of way breathing is.

When I leave the library with a bulging bag of books (from the adult stacks) chafing into my shoulder I get that giddy, new-love flutter in my chest. Like, I can’t wait to get you all home and read you, my darlings. Other times, limping out of the library feels like leaving the liquor store with a sack of forties and I just want to get to the alleyway, crack a book, and numb my own mental wiring. Still other times, books are teachers; in this past year I’ve learned from books how to make apple cider vinegar and ricotta cheese, and from this book, to question all my previously held parenting philosophies.

So far, my kids are following in my footsteps, insisting on gripping their latest, selected books in their hands as we drive home from the library. For them reading is pure magic, and I love to be the wizard, translating pages of text into lively stories.

So, let’s swap book lists.

I just finished and loved The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender. Before that I was completely captivated by Room, by Emma Donaghue. And now I’m reading Farm City by Novella Carpenter, about the urban homestead she created on an abandoned lot in the rough, concrete jungle of Oakland, California; the book’s main characters are chickens, turkeys, and her unsuspecting neighbors who find themselves invested in Carpenter’s little plot bursting with life.

Col is currently enamored with Farmer Boy, the 3rd book in the Little House on the Prairie series, and Rose is pretty thrilled whenever she can snuggle up to a large, book-wielding person on the couch. She’s particularly taken with Curious George goes to the Hospital right now.

What are you and your brood reading right now?

44 Comments leave one →
  1. March 28, 2011 9:29 am

    I don’t know what I’d do without the library! Especailly these days when I leave with a bag full of treasure~ a stack of books, heaping pile of magazines, cd’s and a dvd, and not a penny spent.

    This book in my reading pile stands out as one you might like: D.I.Y Delicious Recipes and Ideas for Simple Food from Scratch by Vanessa Barrington

    Theo’s current fav find: Sally Jean the Bicycle Queen

  2. March 28, 2011 9:32 am

    Ok, now I really love you! I am reading The Navigator of New York (Wayne Johnston) – which I am having trouble putting down, which is why Felix, at almost 2, is trying to figure out how to make his own cheese toast. The Papa is reading Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell, which I also loved. Incidentally, the cheese book you referenced is beside my bed, along with 700 other books.
    Sebastien is reading about the Edmund Fitzgerald, along with the usual Richard Scarry collection, and a really annoying Mercer Mayer book about bullying that I snuck back to the library this morning, because the message seems to be “hit harder”. Grrr. Felix continues to love any book as long as there as singing in it, and preferably, a train, especially the Benedict Blathwayt books.
    I also just read No Impact Man, which was kind of neat, and made me want to go live in New York for a while. I could go on for hours, but I need to go read my book while tending children. :)

  3. March 28, 2011 9:33 am

    P.S. I take the kids to the library in a double stroller, that they don’t really fit into together anymore. Ergo, they squabble the whole way home about who gets to have their book open at which time. Generally, the books end up a bit snotty.

  4. Ellen permalink
    March 28, 2011 9:54 am

    Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver…it is about so many things…art (Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera), writing, reading, Russian communism, American anticommunism, and the grand sweep of Mexican history.

    There is also quite a bit about food. It is absorbing and eye-opening and also beautifully written.

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      March 28, 2011 10:35 am

      Ooh, thanks for the reminder, I can’t wait to read that!

  5. March 28, 2011 9:57 am

    We are on the exact same wavelength this morning:

    I just finished a book of short stories by Lorrie Moore, but I can’t say that it grabbed me and held me. Recent reads that held me have been The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky, and Juliet, Naked, by Nick Hornby. Older child is completely into Magic Tree House, which to me are neither here nor there, but he loves working his way through the series and he seems to be learning stuff in the process, not that that’s a prerequisite for a good book. Little one will listen to almost anything but seems to be fascinated by astronauts. And has started pointing out letters!

    I’m going to order Room from the library next, although I’m slightly scared to read it.

    And Marlene! It’s like we’re having a coffee date here at 6512! I can’t believe your kids are finally outgrowing our shared household stroller! How long before you start hinting that you want the single Chariot back? ;-)

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      March 28, 2011 10:55 am

      Susan, please let me know how you like Room.

  6. March 28, 2011 10:10 am

    I recently finished two books that really stuck with me. The Sea Captain’s Wife by Beth Powning – wonderful. She is totally my current favorite author, and a gracious, creative woman as well. Also read Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese (sp?). I had a hard time putting this one down, but it was difficult to read in places.

    We need to return all of our overdue books. We have over 50 right now, I think. Our library doesn’t do fines, but they won’t let you check anything new out or order anything online or even renew them if you have overdue books beyond a few weeks. :)

  7. Jan permalink
    March 28, 2011 10:29 am

    I’m a fig fan of the Lacuna, as is Ellen. I might have even recommended it to her! Not sure. Another book that I read recently and really loved was Memoir from Antproof Case. And Room. Right now, a little late to the party. I’m reading Running With Scissors. What would any of us do without books?

  8. Jan permalink
    March 28, 2011 10:30 am

    Actually I’m not a “fig” fan. It was meant to be”big”! :o)

  9. March 28, 2011 10:55 am

    The Island of Yummy at my house is our reading and now cuddling place. Is was christened that is the aisle of safety in a world of toddler mayhem. My bed. Even on days when I was crazy mean feeling I could crawl into that bed, put a babe into each arm and melt away the bad feelings.

    I think the best thing I’ve done as a parent is read the Little House books to my children. I’m not even being hyperbolic. It’s that important. Foundational reading at our home. Col and I have something in common because Farmer Boy was one I particularly loved.

    I also enjoyed “Tell Me Something Happy” and just about anything by Cynthia Rylant. Picture books hold a particular sway with me. Power-packed wisdom delivered with lots of color. Who could love anything more? There’s more. But ya know. There’s more to do as well…

  10. March 28, 2011 10:56 am

    I’ve been meaning to read Room. I’ll bump that up on my list with your recommendation. I just finished “I Don’t Know How She Does It: The Life of Kate Reddy, Working Mother” for a book club and enjoyed it immensely. Entertaining and poignant.

    Right now I’m reading “Engage: The Complete Guide for Brands and Businesses to Build, Cultivate, and Measure Success in the New Web.” Clearly not for entertainment, but I am still enjoying it :)

    I love catching Little Miss with her books too. So cute. And heartwarming since I’m a reader myself. She’s still in the Sandra Boynton stage, but enjoys anything read out loud to her. Even the Star Wars ABC’s book.

  11. woowoomama permalink
    March 28, 2011 10:59 am

    i know i am about two years behind here but i just finished the story of edgar sawtelle and it was breathtakingly good.

  12. Nancy permalink
    March 28, 2011 11:29 am

    I, too am a library fan. I am next on the reserve list for Room. I’m currently reading Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese – and enjoying it. One of my favorite books is Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell – which I found to be extraordinarily creative and fun to read. Any takers???? I also read Lacuna and got ‘stuck’ in the middle – but then the pace picked up and I totally got into it.

    Thanks for this post – I’ll be adding books to my “to Read” list.

  13. March 28, 2011 11:37 am

    I *just* finished reading The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. I’m not sure why, but I didn’t love it… I’m currently reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett (book club read) and One and the Same: My Life as an Identical Twin and What I’ve Learned About Everyone’s Struggle to Be Singular by Abigail Pogrebin. (of course, I’m reading this one to better understand my daughters).

    Oh, and I love to listen to books on CD in my car – just finished My Name is Memory, which was a good mix of girlish love story and intriguing historical/spiritual perspective.

  14. March 28, 2011 12:29 pm

    Oh love this idea!
    I am re-reading an old series by Jan Karon. This is a set of books that I read back in middle school-high school days. It was good back then but I am connecting to it even more now. The stories are all about an episocpal priest, his life, his faith and all the people in his small, mountain town parish. The challenges, changes and struggles he has with his faith are amazing to me and I am constantly learning.
    My oldest daughter is very into alphabet books right now because she is really starting to recognize the letters.
    And my one year old is finally starting to show an interest in books but it has to be Dr. Seuss board books or Sandra Boynton books.
    Thanks for sharing.

  15. Rachel Kohnen permalink
    March 28, 2011 12:31 pm

    Me and my brood and our reading adventures:
    Ian has been working his way through the Chronicles of Narnia series – he and his dad are nearly finished with Dawn Treader. Ian and I read about the history of the Greek Gods and any other “romantic” history such as Egypt, Pirates and any other sightly gory books.
    Lucy is enamored with fairy tales – Grimm style as opposed to Disney, but she will take them any way she can get them. I am currently invested in Isabelle Allende’s Island Beneath the Sea. Absolutely beautiful and a bit heart-wrenching.
    The Little House on the Prairie books are books I’ve never thought for Ian…love the idea!

  16. dale in denver permalink
    March 28, 2011 12:31 pm

    Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay – like Room it is devastatingly terrific.

  17. Katie B. permalink
    March 28, 2011 1:10 pm

    I’m reading the same book I was in December!! I get through about two paragraphs at night before being consumed by exhaustion. How do you all do it???

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      March 28, 2011 2:23 pm

      Pure addiction.

  18. rose permalink
    March 28, 2011 2:10 pm


    read recently:

    the help
    little bee
    everyday sacred
    the freedom manifesto
    sex at dawn
    traveling with pomegranates

    sometimes i feel like i’m having an affair.

  19. Molly permalink
    March 28, 2011 2:55 pm

    OMG. Lacuna, Memoir from Antproof Case and Running with Scissors are some of my fun reads (though not all recent.) Lucinda (3 y.o.) is enjoying various books by Bill Peet, like Ella and Encore for Eleanor.

    I used to be a library fanatic, and now I find I am regularly fully overdue, four bucks worth. So I subscribed to the New Yorker on my Kindle, and periodically buy a book, and very carefully check books out.

    Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand. Hoping to get to read Harlem is Nowhere, soon. Others, somewhat recently read: The Slippery Year. Eating Animals (not very relevant for your family). I Just Lately Started Buying Wings. Strength in What Remains. Jarhead (re-read). Cutting for Stone. Middlesex. How I Became a Famous Novelist.

    I just got Artisan Bread in Five Minutes and am flipping out about how great the bread is. And I am an unbearable bread snob.

    I’ll check back here when I need a boost. Thank you.

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      March 28, 2011 3:07 pm

      LOVED Middlesex and I did read Eating Animals, and it actually changed my life. After reading I made a pledge to only eat animals whose origins I know.

      I never had library fines before children, now it’s almost constant. I look at it as my donation to the library.

      My kids love Bill Peet.

      Thanks for your recommends.

  20. March 28, 2011 5:50 pm

    oh dear rachel,

    you have opened a can of worms.

    i’m going to go cook supper and think about this.

    but here are the kids favs….

    sweet lew, age 8, is so mired in comics and anything graphic. he’s old school and loves what i grew up with, which i’m thankful for, but is also moving into some popular stuff. took him to a comic book store in abq. and he died three times over. i went to get coffee next door and came back and he was laid out on the floor with the owner’s dog, head in books. he draws comics too… constantly.

    max, age 11, anything and everything, farmer boy, from years ago, still thrills him. he is an emotional reader and will cry and nash teeth and get confounded. then wants to describe every word, seriously, every word, of a story over dinner.

    della, age 5, my poor kids…if i didn’t save it from my own youth, i have found it and bought it. her favorites are poetry and nursery rhyme anthologies. we sing and recite.

    Read alouds are a whole different topic and that’s Matt territory. More later. the peppers are black as night…you’ve ruined my dinner! :)

    and the library has a warrant out for my arrest.


  21. March 28, 2011 6:05 pm

    I’m reading books on permaculture and knitting. I’m the same way Rachel. I feel so alive when I go the the library! I love Unconditional Parenting. One of my faves!

  22. March 28, 2011 6:08 pm

    Just finished:
    “The Dirty Life: A Memoir on Farming, Food and Love” by Kristin Kimball (loved it!)
    “Bel Canto” by Ann Patchett (so unbelievably overrated)
    “Bringing it to the Table” by Wendell Berry (the love, the love, the love)

    Currently reading:
    “The Value of Nothing: How to Reshape Market Society and Redefine Democracy” by Raj Patel (shaky in the beginning, but gettin’ better)
    “Be Thrifty: How to Live Better with Less” (takes me back to the Amy Dacyzyn days)
    “The Use of Regret” by Greggory Moore (a neighbor of mine. Compilations of short stories, etc. Quite lovely)

    I really want to read “The Girl” (dragon tatoo, etc.) books everyone is raving about, but I’m told there is ample violence against women in them, and I can’t handle it.

    No chilluns, but the husband is reading “The Indispensible Calvin & Hobbes.” Almost like having a kid. ;)

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      March 28, 2011 8:56 pm

      I have The Dirty Life on request at the library.

      The violence in Steig Larsson’s books is pretty awful, but the female protagonist is a complete ass-kicking heroine, if that helps.

      Love that your husband is reading Calvin and Hobbs.

  23. March 28, 2011 6:13 pm

    Just finished one old book NO LIFE FOR A LADY, by Agnes Morely Cleaveland, a book about a western New Mexico ranching family 1874-1920 or so, just as good as Frank McNitt’s book on the Wetherills of Mesa Verde. One newer book LETTERS FROM A WEMINUCHE HOMESTEAD, 1902, Edith Taylor Shaw’s letters on homesteading in the Weminuche. While I was reading those two, I began IMMORTAL SUMMER, edited by Mary J. Straw Cook, a Santa Fe historian/musician/writer, who also believes (and I believe her) she has discovered the carpenter who built the staircase in the Chapel of the Sisters of Loretto. This book is a compilation of letters written in 1897 by two sisters who traveled to the southwest instead of their usual European summer jaunt.
    All for researching my own book about my great-grandfather, who would not have known these women at all, but who had women in his life (wife, mother and sister-in-laws, and daughter). Bought these books together from an ebay bookstore which is also selling books by Will James, one of my favorite old cowboy authors. Oh, and a Harlequin historical romance about a cowboy and his lady in Grand Junction, 1885.
    Oh, also some books on Western art, Russell, Remington, and Georgia O’Keefe and everybody in between.
    And others…. jeep trails in Colorado, famous pioneer women in Colorado, the D & SNG railroad guide, all in various reading places in my house… it never stops.

    I love Bill Peet too! Go big bad Bruce!!!

  24. Kristen permalink
    March 28, 2011 7:46 pm

    True to form, my kids have multiple books going, as does their mom. Aidans school is in the middle of its Read-A-Thon and he has been devouring the Little House series as well as anything by E.B. White – Trumpet of the Swan, Charlottes Web, Stuart Little. He read a Cynthia Rylant novel in one sitting on our drive back from spring break in Phoenix (The Islander).

    As for me, I am currently reading Bel Canto (for book club), Care of the Soul by Thomas Moore, Animal Vegetable Mineral (for the 3rd time) AND The Omnivores Dilemma (for the first, if you can believe it). Got a Kindle for my birthday – was skeptical at first, but when I realized I could press a little button and have most any book that my heart desired, it was like literary crack! Hard to restrain myself!!

  25. Chi-An permalink
    March 28, 2011 11:46 pm

    Hi, I love reading your suggestions as I’m currently casting about for some new books. I am (re) working my way through Terry Pratchett’s Tiffany Aching series (Wee Free Men, Hatful of Sky, Wintersmith, & I Shall Wear Midnight). Ostensibly written for tweenish kids, truly fabulous books.

    I liked Stieg Larsson’s Millenium Trilogy too, although I did find the violence a little much. I’ve heard that there are some drafts of a couple more of his works floating around, trying to get out of legal limbo, so I’m hopeful.

    My 7-yr-old is working his way through the Narnia books. Currently on The Magician’s Nephew. I need to find him a new series soon, he moves through books incredibly fast.

    My 4-yr-old loves Mo Willem’s Elephant and Piggie series, and has committed to heart every single word of Richard Scarry’s What Do People Do All Day? It’s a comfort object for her, it has to be in her bed every night.

    And about library fines, I’d owe enough to buy at least my local branch except that our system has on-line reminders & renewals. Whew!

    Happy reading!

  26. March 29, 2011 9:52 am

    I have now added Farm City to my “to read” list and look forward to hearing Novella’s thoughts on raising vegetables and livestock in the city. Right now I am finishing a couple interesting books – “The Joy of Keeping a Root Cellar” by Jennifer Megyesi and “Where Our Food Comes From” by Gary Paul Nabhan. I always get caught up in more than one book at a time.:)

  27. March 29, 2011 10:55 am

    Look at all these comments you get! I am going to be lost down here, but I just have to leave one saying that is exactly how I feel about the library. All those morsels of information and entertainment, free for the borrowing! A favorite recent library borrow was Nurture Shock, which I only skimmed in chunks. Someone else had it on hold, so I had to return it unfinished, but wow…it was food for thought. Another exercise in remembering to parent by what feels right, because someone somewhere will tell me it is wrong, no matter what it is!
    Warmly, Nicola

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      March 29, 2011 2:07 pm

      Nicola dear, please never feel that your comment will be lost just because you’ve come after a small crowd. I appreciate and read all comments. My eyes got opened by Nurture Shock too.

      XO, Rachel

  28. March 29, 2011 11:06 am

    For me, in moments that I steal by hiding in the bathroom:
    The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society- LOVE
    The Lacuna- Double LOVE
    The HaHa- Snuck up but then I loved it.
    Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk- Dark but irresistible.
    Liars and Saints- Rad

    Kid books:
    The Catwings series
    Heckedy Peg
    Wizard of Oz (original)
    The Talking Eggs
    The Talking Bone
    and anything with words!

  29. Emily permalink
    March 29, 2011 5:15 pm

    Well I’ve just requested Animal Vegetable Mineral. Thank you to you who left that suggestion! I forgot I wanted to read it.

    I just finished The Disappearing Spoon, a really well written, engaging history of the periodic table. It really was quite fabulous, and I’m ok with my dorkiness. Naturally I picked up a biography of Johannes Kepler; Kepler’s Witch.

    I’m lucky enough to still be reading out loud to both kids. They are big fantasy lovers. I’d been shaking the library fantasy section hoping something we hadn’t read yet would fall out, when the Belgariad series, by David Eddings, landed at my feet. I’m not sure it was the best choice, but they love it. I just breeze over words like “eunuch”. touchy work, I tell you.

    And just so I feel better about myself here are some recent GOOD kids choices I made:
    Where the Mountain Meets the Moon
    My Side of the Mountain
    Calvin and Hobbes (they LOVE Calvin, and I’m trying to tell myself that they aren’t taking notes)

    Thanks for bringing this up, Rachel! I really enjoyed reading through the comments.

  30. Emily permalink
    March 29, 2011 5:18 pm

    ps – Alfie Kohn did the same to me. In the same vein, David Albert (And the Skylark Sings With Me, is my favorite) is also very good. :>)

  31. March 29, 2011 10:45 pm

    just finished and loved ‘twelve by twelve’ – i think you’d like it too. thanks for sharing your reading! i believe i need more escapism fiction and less parenting psycho-hoo-ha. but i still can’t help myself. and i do not regret reading unconditional parenting. except when my boy pretends to be a dog so i will call him a good doggie and feed him treats. hrm.

  32. March 30, 2011 9:25 am

    I’m taking a mental vacation (re)reading Mary Stewart’s “The Moonspinners”…delightfully chaste/romantic romp through the Cretan countryside, with a few murders thrown in for good measure.

    I’m also about 2/3 through Elizabeth Bowen’s death of the heart, but I’m getting exhausted with Portia’s drama and I really don’t see what she sees in Eddy…and while I enjoyed (and envied) the philosophical ramblings for the first 200 pages or so, I wish she’d just get on with it, already.

    I also am super psyched to have an advance copy of Sandra Steingraber’s Raising Elijah: Protecting our Children in a Time of Envrionmental Crisis, which I need to read in small, heartbreaking doses.

    The little boys are going through the Chronicles of Narnia with their dad and I fear I’ll never be able to lure them into sitting still for The Secret Garden after that.

    The big boy is on his fifth go-through with the Percy Jackson series, but I had to put a stop to his reading for fun so he can focus on homework (I know, crazy).

    And E just read “In A People House” all by himself three times in a row. He and Z are also rocking on “A Great Day for UP” “Hop On Pop” “The Berenstain Bears and the Spooky Old Tree” and “Inside Outside Upside Down.”

  33. March 31, 2011 9:33 am

    If it’s not about helping children adapt to life abroad or how to pack for a year’s sabbatical, I’m not reading it. But the list of books I want to read is miles long (or should I say kilometers?), as always.

    Also, comparing books to forties you just want to devour in an alley? Best. Metaphor. Ever.

  34. April 2, 2011 12:58 am

    Oh, how I miss my normally-clockwork visits to the library. Right now, though, I’m reading Frankenstein, Their Eyes Were Watching God, The Penelopiad [Odyssey from Penelope’s perspective], Sue Grafton’s alphabet series [I’m on “T” today] and anthologies of children’s stories.

    I’m saving this post, though, for when I have more time for pleasure reading.

  35. April 6, 2011 4:03 pm

    There is something almost reckless about loving books so much that even considering the books you’ve had between your hands and those loved by all those who commented makes my heart race.

    Book-wise, I am polyamorous, but I stay faithful to my favorites, and couldn’t tell you how many times they have been re-read. Lately:

    The three essays-in-one “The Primary Colors” by Alexander Theroux (who wrote Darconville’s Cat), a gem-like treatise loved by Updike too.

    Colum McCann’s This Side of Brightness (because I couldn’t stop reaching for his turns of phrase after devouring Let The Great World Spin). Didn’t you ever wonder who dug all those tunnels for all those great cities?

    Steinbeck’s East of Eden. Still riveting.

    Norman Rush’s Mating. A take-no-prisoners, full-on female narrator who has met her intellectual match. In Botswana.

    Kate Atkinson anything. But Started Early, Took My Dog is good fun.

    If I had to suggest one single book for you, one single book that I would be buried with–an outwardly modest book that burns and surges within–it would likely be Mary H. Austin’s Land of Little Rain–and I wouldn’t skip US poet laureate Robert Hass’ introduction either.

  36. April 8, 2011 5:21 am

    Late to this party… been busy around here…

    I’m mired in the Millenium trilogy. Almost done with The Girl Who Played With Fire. I’m quite taken! The violence in them is, for me, not to difficult, mainly given it’s contextual setting, and that she is a bad-ass. I am quite sure I will not see the movies however!

    Connor is loving just about anything that get read to him, but at the moment, we are deep into James and the Giant Peach. They’ve just made it through the Cloud Men, so coming up on New York should be tonight or tomorrow! God I loved Roald Dahl sooooooo much!!! And I read and re-read and re-re-re-read the Little House books. And Narnia. And Potter. God, I’ve read Potter so. many. times.

    Also, totally concur on the whole sack of forties metaphor. Awesome. It recently occurred to me that for what I’ve spent on books in the last year, I probably could have paid my library fines. But, the books are small doses of cash. Anyhoo… once we get moved, planning on going all library crazy again. Practically lived in my neighborhood library as a kid. They even let me come in on my roller skates, because they knew I wouldn’t knock anything over, or be obnoxious on them.

    Other books… lots of Kathy Reichs recently, also Patricia Cornwell, Jim Butcher, and I too love the Sue Grafton Alphabet series. I think V is up next…
    Man. Maybe it’s telling why I don’t find the violence in Larsson so difficult. I read lots of gruesome crime novels don’t I? LOL

  37. April 13, 2011 3:58 pm

    Annabelle by Kathleen Winter. I read it in 2 days while River was recuperating (and felt a little guilty to be so engrossed but it was so well written).


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